JONATHAN WOODGATE has aired his surprise at the way a number of Championship clubs, including this weekend’s opponents Reading, were able to spend relatively big this summer, as Middlesbrough prepare to sue the English Football League.

In an unprecedented move by the Teesside club, whose chairman Steve Gibson has been alleging for some time that certain profit and sustainability rules are not being followed through the league, Middlesbrough are to sue on grounds the EFL failed to enforce its financial rules over Derby County’s purchase of their own stadium.

Boro chiefs sent a legal letter to the EFL after Derby beat them to a play-off place last season by one point and that denied the Riverside Stadium club the chance of securing promotion to the Premier League and a massive windfall approaching £200m.

Derby, along with others including promoted Aston Villa, have been accused of exploiting a loophole in the EFL’s rules; in this case one loophole allowed them to buy their own stadium to increase their financial potential.

Middlesbrough have declined to comment but, after the report in The Times, The Northern Echo understands there have been developments and the claim is based on the fact they finished behind Derby last season.

The EFL, who have Debbie Jevans as interim chair at a time when there is not a chief executive - are understood to be surprised by the development but Middlesbrough are determined to see things improve.

The Derby chief executive Stephen Pearce sits on the EFL board and it was claimed last week how the EFL, under pressure from clubs such as Middlesbrough and Leeds United, ordered an independent valuation of Pride Park. It is also being suggested that, independent valuations have also been commissioned for Sheffield Wednesday and Reading.

Middlesbrough come up against Reading on Saturday knowing that under Jose Gomes the Royals have changed considerably since last season. Among the ten new signings - which also include Joao, Ovie Ejaria and Charlie Adam – Reading spent big on Romania striker George Puscas.

The 23-year-old is a player that Woodgate has admired and would have loved to sign from Inter Milan, but he was quick to admit defeat when he learned of the financial implications in pulling off such a deal.

“I didn't have a go for him, we wouldn't have been able to afford him,” said Woodgate. “He's very good, last year at Palermo he scored a lot of goals on loan but there's no way we could afford him. I didn't think Reading could afford him to be honest! They just produced money out of nowhere.

“I couldn't believe it. If we can't afford his numbers, I get all that. I always check on the internet to see who's going where and what's happening because I like to know who's moving, and I see Puscas? Eh, Reading? I'm thinking '£6m or £7m'. I'm like, 'Oh my God, I thought they were trying to get rid of a load of players not buy'. But they've got money from somewhere and fair play to them.”

Puscas has scored three times since arriving from Italy and the highly-rated Romanian scored for his country against Malta last Sunday. He is a player Woodgate is very familiar with, having considered a move before realising he was out of Middlesbrough’s price-range.

“I actually saw Puscas in the summer watching the Under-21s in Italy at the Euros. I went to the game, England vs Romania, I was watching a few players from Romania," said Woodgate.

“I saw Puscas straight away. To bring him here we'd have had to spend a lot of money. We couldn't do that type of deal. Reading done it, fair play. He's a very, very good player.”

It remains to be seen whether Puscas will have the impact that another Championship newcomer had last year, when Teemu Pukki fired Norwich City to promotion having been a relative unknown beforehand.

Woodgate said: “Pukki was a free transfer. Puscas was, what, £6m (a reported £7.5m)? It also helps with the style of football you play. They have taken a chance on someone and he's done well. Puscas has got the ability to do that, he's a very good player, strong, quick, scores off both feet, he's decent."